Closing our busy restaurant

Our busy restaurant. Note the thief down at the bottom.

Our busy restaurant. Note the thief down at the bottom.

You’ve read or heard the news about taking in birdfeeders.

Well, we had already essentially closed our busy restaurant on the deck. We haven’t put any new seed in it for a week or so (and it runs out fast). My wife runs the establishment, and her rule is, when it starts turning warm, the birds need to fend for themselves. Get up early and get the worm, etc.

It’s been a busy season, as you can see above. Here’s a closeup of the feeder, to give you a better idea:


The new restaurant has twice the seating, above and below.

Business wasn’t great at the start, but not on account of COVID. Remember when we had those trees cut down? Well, the woodsmen did a great job, with one exception — a branch from that one, biggest pine in the backyard fell on the corner of our deck, smashing the railing and destroying my wife’s feeder. (Note that this was unintentionally foreshadowed here on the blog, when I wrote that “Then, they’ll get to the one we’re most concerned about, the massive one with ominous branches that project out over the deck we’ve spent so much time rebuilding…”)

So I got her another one for Christmas. But I upgraded — it was the same kind of feeder she’d had before, but two-story. Twice the seating space, above and below.

Of course, this leads to at least twice the mess below — bird poop, inevitably, and a huge amount of dropped seed. This can be avoided by swinging the feeder out from the deck, over the yard, but then we can’t see the birds as well from the kitchen window. And we like seeing them. My wife has acquired a couple of birdwatcher’s books, and she’s gotten good at identifying them all, and even I’ve learned the names of some of them — the wrens (some actual Carolina wrens, but a number of impostors as well — such as the ones pictured above, I believe), chickadees, those big bullies the cardinals, titmice, Eastern towhees, and so forth.

So my wife put out a big sheet of cardboard under the feeder, which catches most of it. And there’s enough seed there that some undiscriminating diners feast down there — including, as you see in the first photo above, the squirrels.

The squirrels. They figured prominently in my shopping decisions (the new feeder was a Christmas gift from me) for the iron rod from which the feeder hangs. I got an extra big, heavy, LONG iron bar, in an effort to keep the squirrels out of the feeder.

I failed, of course, as you can see below. They were very… enterprising. Sometimes I get the impression that we have the squirrel equivalent of SEAL Team Six living in our backyard. They have the skill, the training, and the determination to overcome any obstacle.

They had two methods. Some would take huge, suicidal leaps from the wooden benches built into the corner of the deck, several feet away. They’d just barely make it, snagging the perch with their little paws and pulling themselves up so they could dig in. What’s pictured below is the less dignified manner. It involves walking out on the new, long iron bar, holding on with their toes to the top of the feeder, and then eating while hanging upside-down.

When I see these things happening, I sometimes step out and scare them off. Other times, I figure, if they’re that determined, let them eat.

But really, the feeder is for the birds…

Have y’all had similar experiences?

It looks ridiculous, but I guess he's really hungry.

It looks ridiculous, but I guess he’s really hungry.

10 thoughts on “Closing our busy restaurant

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    You may note in that first picture that I still haven’t replaced the deck railing that was smashed by the falling limb (that’s all it messed up — that one board, and the feeder attached to it).

    Hey, I’m going to get to it! I’ve bought the lumber, and it’s sitting out there on the deck, getting seasoned…

  2. Bryan Caskey

    Yeah, squirrels are intrepid little pirates of the bird feeder. It takes nothing short of standing guard with a company of Marines to keep the squirrels away.

    Since you’re ending the birdseed feeder now that it’s getting warm, do you put out a hummingbird feeder? it’s coming into season, and you don’t have to worry about squirrels. I find hummingbirds even more fascinating that regular ol’ birds to the extent that I pass the word for the Doctor when I see one flitting about.

    1. Randle

      Hummingbirds are wonderful! Just make sure to change their sugar water a couple of times a week. (You can make it yourself. And wash feeders with vinegar, not bleach). We get a whole crew now, and had to add a feeder to break up the fights. They are very aggressive but also very friendly. They buzz my head and drop down in front of my face to say hello when I go outside.
      Highly recommend!

      1. Randle

        We bought feeders squirrels can’t get into, as my husband was going to shoot them for stealing. They’re spring-loaded, and snap shut when a squirrel gets on one. So far, so good. No dead bodies.

  3. Barry

    I have two feeders just behind my pool. I have them on posts I installed in the ground. So far, the squirrels have stayed away.

  4. Bill

    I was bitten by a squirrel on The State House’ lawn,eating Cromer’s peanuts-
    Robert McNair was governor:

  5. Norm Ivey

    Squirrels and bird feeders. Ugh.

    We have tried all kinds of tricks, the most entertaining of which is to spray the shepherd’s crook the feeder hangs from with Pam each morning. We finally found a feeder that is spring loaded and closes when a squirrel’s weight is on it. That, coupled with a blend with no sunflower seeds has kept them out of it, mostly. We had a raccoon dining late night from it a few years ago. He was fun to watch.

    I’d you search YouTube for “squirrel obstacle course” or “squirrel catapult” you’ll be entertained for a while.

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